• Monday, May 20, 2024
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West Africa cotton producers forecast bumper 2014/15 crop

Cotton2West African cotton output is forecast to jump over 19 percent to 2,570,000 tonnes for the 2014/15 season as high government-fixed prices attract growers back to the sector, data compiled by Reuters showed on Thursday.

Before a market crash in the early 2000s, the seven top cotton-producing countries in the region had accounted for about 15 percent of the world’s cotton exports.

They are now ramping up output again, already showing a rise of 7 percent to 2,152,724 tonnes in 2013/14 from the season before as a rebound in world prices in recent years has allowed governments to increase what they pay farmers.

Bukina Faso, the regional leader, is targeting output of 800,000 tonnes in 2014/15, up 23 percent from the recently ended season, though the head of the country’s cotton farmers union said he was sceptical of the forecast.

“It will be difficult to reach the production target,” said Karim Traore, the head of the National Union of Cotton Producers. “Not only did planting start late, but farmers didn’t plough as much acreage as expected.”

West Africa’s number two producer, Mali, was more optimistic.

Harvesting in most of the region is expected to start next month before picking up from December. But Ousmane Traore, a technical adviser to Mali’s state-owned cotton production and marketing company, CMDT, said Malian farmers had already started picking their cotton.

“The harvest is a bit early this year because farmers planted a lot in May, so some cotton was ready from September,” he said. “We can assume that the target of 600,000 tonnes will be reached.”

Ivory Coast, Benin and Senegal are all predicting production increases for 2014/15. Togo is forecasting a jump of over 54 percent, with projected output of 120,000 tonnes, up from 77,800 tonnes in 2013/14.

In Cameroon, 2013/14 output rose nearly 7 percent to 235,000 tonnes on the back of favourable weather. That figure would have been higher, but a significant portion of the crop was lost due to smuggling to neighbouring Nigeria.

“It is difficult to say the exact quantity smuggled out during the last season, but it should be about 30,000 tonnes,” said Ousmane Oumate, the president of the National Confederation of Cotton Producers of Cameroon.

Cameroon will seek to clamp down on illegal trafficking in order to reach its 2014/15 production target of 245,000 tonnes.

The most-active December cotton contract on ICE Futures U.S. was trading at around 63.78 cents a lb on Thursday.

Following is a list of past and projected production of raw, unginned cotton to the nearest tonne and by country:

Forecast Country       2013/2014      2014/2015

Benin                           306,000            350,000

Burkina Faso             650,105             800,000

Cameroon                 235,000             245,000

Ivory Coast              405,000              425,000

Mali                           450,000              600,000

Senegal                       28,819                  30,000

Togo                            77,800               120,000

Total                       2,152,724               2,570,000